In my previous post I wrote of Paul taken by the Jews from the Temple, wherein they believed he had taken gentiles in order to pollute their Holy Place. They would have killed him, but the chief captain of the Roman guard at the Antonia sent a centurion with his men to take Paul by force (Acts 21:28-32).
The Roman captain allowed Paul to speak to the Jews and at first he was able to make a defense before the multitude, until he witnessed to them that the Lord, Jesus, sent him to the gentiles (Acts 22:21-22). When he told the Jews of this, the Romans again had to rescue him, and the captain would have beaten him to tell why the Jews wanted to kill him, but after he found out Paul was a Roman citizen he decided to tell the high priest to call the full Sanhedrin together the next day to examine Paul (Acts 22:24-30). However, when Paul began to testify before the Jewish court and recognizing both that the high priest was against him and that the court was divided among Pharisees and Sadducees (the party of the high priest), he announced he was a Pharisee, himself, and brought into question over his belief in the resurrection. This divided the court—the one part wanting to kill him, but the other wanting to save him, and again the chief captain of the Antonia had to send men among the Jewish crowd to rescue Paul, for he feared the two parties would have pulled him apart (Acts 23:1-10).
Later Paul found out through his nephew that among the high priest’s servants there were violent men who had put themselves under an oath not to eat until they had killed Paul. The plan was for the high priest to persuade the chief captain to permit them to hear Paul once again to clear up a certain matter, whereupon the men would fall upon Paul and kill him. Josephus tells us that the high priests in Jerusalem often used violent men of the scarii to carry out some of their wicked plans. An example of this would be the probable reason for the collection of the saints that Paul brought with him to Jerusalem. The high priests were using the scarii to steal the tithes that rightfully belonged to the priests who served the Temple, many of whom believed in Jesus (JOSEPHUS; Antiquities of the Jews, book 20, chapter 8, paragraph 8 & chapter 9, paragraph 2–compare with Acts 21:18-20 and Acts 6:7).
Long-story-short, Paul’s nephew was sent to the chief captain to alert him (Acts 23:20-21), who had Paul safely removed from the Antonia during the night, after mid-night (Acts 23:23). Paul was taken by horseback to Caesarea to the Roman governor, Felix. After Felix read the letter from the chief captain at the Antonia in Jerusalem, he told Paul he would hear his case after his accusers arrived (Acts 23:33-35).
These final chapters of Acts move rather quickly, but Paul received a vision from the Lord, to comfort him. I imagine Paul thought about this vision quite often, while he was held in prison and was able to draw courage from the Lord’s words. Jesus told him in vision that Paul need not fear, but he must preach the Gospel in Rome. Knowing this, Paul could conclude that no matter what occurred over his trial before Felix or no matter how long his captivity, when the dust settled, Paul would be permitted to preach the Gospel in Rome (Acts 23:11).
It is the little things like this that we must not forget. In the midst of our trouble, if we have a good word from the Lord, it will carry us through to the other side, and we shall be able to comfort others who are in similar troubles with the same comfort, by which we have been comforted of God (2Corinthians 1:4). May the Lord quicken these things to our hearts!